For years font rendering in Linux was encumbered or restricted from
using the functions of the True Type Bytecode Interpreter because the
technology to interpret hinting instructions was patented by Apple.
Freetype attempted to mimic these functions so users could enjoy a nice
anti-aliased font, and as time progressed fonts became more and more
attractive. But generally Linux still did not render fonts as nicely as
Windows and Mac systems. Savvy users could enable the Bytecode
Interpreter themselves much like those who bravely install the patented
codecs required to view certain video formats. Sometimes smaller
distributions with little to fear from legal action might have enabled
it, but for the most part the larger commercially-backed distributions
shipped with the legal Freetype - depriving users of beautifully
But all that is history. As of May 2010, those patents have expired
and as of July 12 with version 2.4.0, Freetype ships with the Bytecode
Interpreter enabled. Version 2.4.1 was released July 18 to address a
small bug found in 2.4.0. Freetype is released under a BSD-style FreeType License and the GPL.